Monthly Archives: March 2018

Restoring Barry’s Dad’s Pipes #6 – a Dunhill Root Briar 34 F/T Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been including some of the back story in each of the restorations of these pipes because to me the story gives colour to the pipe as I work on it. I am including it once again. Skip over it if you want to. Late in the summer of 2017 I received an email on rebornpipes blog from Barry in Portland, Oregon. He wanted to know if I would be interested in purchasing his Dad’s pipes. I have finished four of them so far, a 1939 Dunhill Patent Shell Bulldog, a Comoy’s Grand Slam Zulu, a Comoy’s London Pride Liverpool and a 1959 Dunhill Root Briar Billiard. After I finished the second pipe Barry wrote me an email that gave me a little more information on his Dad and incidentally on himself as this pipe was one of his own. Here is what he wrote me.

Steve, — Another great restoration and writing to go with it. I appreciate these pipes more watching the work it takes to get them in good condition.

Your (mine?) floral words about my father are perhaps a little deceptive. Inside that man was a lifelong Bolshevik. Who yearned for the revolution and settled for the party of Roosevelt. His parents were born in the Russian Empire (Ukraine), his father having escaped after brief detention during the 1905 failed uprising and to avoid conscription. His father was gruff, a bit crude and all politics. Given those origins he made the best of himself, had tons of friends and would have been a great social worker.

I misled you on the origin of his pipe conversion. It seems clear based on the 1939 pipe that he smoked a pipe in college, returning to them after the 1964 Surgeon General ‘s report on the danger of cigarettes. After that he only reverted to cigarettes at moments of great stress, a death, business setback or a fight with his wife.

He gave me two pipes in college – the GBD bulldog and a “Parker”. The latter I used to smoke a few times but found I was allergic to it, fortunately. The GBD was to get girls with an MGB, a Harris Tweed sport coat with leather elbow patches and jug wine. Didn’t work. Stanford women were in revolt and saw through the pretense. I put both pipes away for nearly fifty years and now they are in your good hands. — Barry

Barry and I corresponded back and forth and concluded our deal. I became the proud owner of his Dad’s pipes. The inventory of the pipes he would be sending included some real beauties – Comoy’s, Parkers, Dunhills and some no name brands. They were beautiful and I could not wait to see them. I had him send them to Jeff where he would clean them up before I received them. Jeff took some photos of the lot as he opened the box. Each pipe was individually wrapped with bubble wrap and taped to protect them. There were 25 bubble wrapped packages and a lot of pipe accessories included – pipe racks, reamers, scrapers and Comoy’s filters and washers. There were pipe pouches and a wooden cigar box that held all of the accessories and reamers. There was a boxed KleenReem pipe reamer that was virtually unused. Jeff unwrapped the pipes and took pictures of the estate showing both the pipes and the accessories. Barry had labeled each pipe with a sticky note. It was an amazing addition to my pipe and tool collection. The next pipe I chose to work on from the collection was the Dunhill Root Briar billiard that is the third pipe down in the photo above. It was in decent condition with dents and wear of the years on briar but the stem was un-oxidized. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank with the shape number 34 followed by F/T which is the style of stem (fish tail). I looked up the shape number on a previous blog on rebornpipes (https://rebornpipes.com/2012/11/01/dunhill-pipe-shapes-collated-by-eric-w-boehm/). The shape number 34 is a Billiard. Next to that it reads Dunhill over Root Briar. On the right side of the shank it reads Made in over England with a superscript 9 and a c. Next to that is the familiar 2 in a circle for the size of the pipe followed by a capital R for the Root Briar finish.

This petite billiard was interesting to me in that it was a unique little Root Briar with a mystery stamping next to the Made in England stamp. The superscript underlined 9 gives a potential date of 1959 but the mystery to me is the superscript underlined c next to that. I had not seen that before on any of the Dunhill pipes that I have worked on. The finish was dirty but in decent condition and the stamping was very readable. The bowl was caked and had an overflow of lava on the rim top as well as some darkening. The outer edges of the rim had some rough spots from knocking the pipe against something hard. There was a burn mark on the front right side of the bowl and the rim top. Even through the grime and grit the amazing birdseye on the sides and cross grain on the front and back of the bowl. The stem was in excellent condition with no oxidation and some tooth chatter both sides of the stem at the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up. As usual the photos tell the story better than my words can. Jeff took some close up photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake and the overall condition of the bow and rim top. Both the outer edges and inner edges of the rim show damage. The top of the rim had some lava build up and had scratches and nicks in the surface. He also took a photo of the underside of the bowl to show the grain and the small dents. It is a really nice piece of briar and should clean up well. The stem was made of hard rubber and was barely oxidized as mentioned above and had tooth chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took photos of both sides of the stem to capture their condition before he cleaned the pipe. The small white spot on the top of the stem was in good condition and slightly indented. Jeff once again did his usual great job on cleaning this pipe, leaving it pristine and without damage to the finish. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the remnants with the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime of the smooth finish on the bowl and shank. He was able to remove the tars and oil on the rim but the darkening and damage to the surfaced would need to be addressed. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the dust and debris were removed the finish looked very good. He soaked the stem in Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to remove the light oxidation, rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.   I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim top and damaged areas around the outer edge of the bowl. The front outer edge has a burn mark. The bowl was very clean and the rim top had some nicks on both the inner and outer, some scorching and general darkening. Jeff had been able to remove the lava from the finish. The inner edge had some damage and nicks and the roughness of the rim top and outer edge was visible. The stem was barely oxidized as can be seen in the photos and has tooth chatter near the button on both sides.Before I did and restoration work on the bowl or stem I decided to pin down the date a bit more. I knew that the pipe was made after the patent era pipes as there was no patent number on the shank but I wanted to narrow that down more. One of the beauties of Dunhill pipes is that the stamping can give you a precise date of manufacture. In this case I wanted to work on the stamping Dunhill Root Briar on the left side of the shank and the Made in England9 c  on the right side of the shank. I looked up the brand on the Pipephil website as he has very helpful photos and information in dating and interpreting the stamping on Dunhill pipes. On one of the supplemental pages associated with Dunhill pipes he has a page on the Patent era pipes. I find that this page is particularly helpful when I am trying to properly identify a pipe. Here is the link to the page: http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/root-briar1.html.

The stamping on this one is similar to the one I am working on. Though the one I have in hand is not a DR A.  The one I have is stamped 34 F/T. The Made in England marking on the pipe in the photo on the right side of the shank is similar as well. The 9 on mine is more of a superscript than this one but the underscore is the same. There is also a 1969 version that is similar but it does not have the underscore on the 9. So the pipe I have is either a 1959 or a 1969 Root Briar. What is also unique on the one I have is the superscript underlined c next to the 9. I cannot find any information on what that means.Jeff photographed the stamping on the right side the shank to show what it read and the condition of the stamping. You can see the underscored superscript 9 matches the one above. The formula is simple – the base number is either1950 or 1960 and you add the underscored superscript 9 to that number. It is either 1969 or 1959. The parallels to the photo above leads me to think it is probably a 1959 pipe. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.To remove the damage on the rim I decided to top the bowl. I used 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board to remove the damage. I worked on it until the top was smooth and the damage on the outer edge of the bowl was minimized. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damages along the outer rim. I used it to also work on the inner edge of the bowl. I gave the inner edge a slight bevel like it original had before I started.  I polished the rim with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad to check on the progress. I used a maple stain pen to touch up the rim top to match the colour on the rest of the bowl. With the touch ups the rim matches the rest of the bowl colour.I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the briar on the smooth finish to clean, enliven and protect it. I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to polish it. It really began to have a deep shine in the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The grain on the bowl is really beginning to stand out and will only do so more as the pipe is waxed. I started working on the stem next. I sanded out the tooth chatter next to the button on both sides with 220 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem surface clean with a damp cloth. I sanded it with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper to blend the scratches left behind by the sandpaper and blended the scratches into the surface of the vulcanite.  I polished stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish, both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This small Dunhill Root Briar is a real beauty with straight grain on the back and front and beautiful birdseye on both sides of the bowl and shank. The grain really is quite stunning. The rim top looks much better. The Dunhill vulcanite stem is high quality and shined up well. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I was careful to not buff the stamping and damage it. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The rich brown stain allows the grain to really stand out on this little pipe and it works well with the rich black of the vulcanite stem. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 1/8 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 5/8 inches. This little Dunhill will fit really nicely into the collection of a friend of mine, Henry who has been looking for a pipe this size. I will sending it to him soon and I know that he is looking forward to enjoying his first bowl in it. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

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There is something about Custombilt Bulldogs that attracts me


Blog by Steve Laug

I needed a short break from the repairs that I have been doing a lot of lately so I chose to work on a nice Custombilt Bulldog that Jeff had sent me. It was a well-shaped ¼ bent Bulldog with worm trail rustication with a slight variation. Each of the worm trails and all around them was marked with a further rustication over the top – horizontal lines that ran all across them and around the bowl. They continued about half way up the shank on the top of the diamond shank. On the underside there was less rustication. The lower left side is stamped Custombilt over Imported Briar. There were two rings going around the bowl separating the rim cap from the rest of the bowl. One ring was slightly larger than the other. There were some small chips and nicks in the rim cap and between the rings. They were not too bad so they would not need a lot of work. The bowl had thick cake and a slight overflow of lava on the back side of the rim. There was some darkening to the rim. The rusticated finish was dirty and had grit and dirt in the grooves. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and there was tooth chatter on both sides near the button. There were no deep tooth marks in the stem itself. Jeff took some photos before he started working on his normal cleanup of the pipe. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started to work his magic on it. The bowl had a thick dark cake and some overflow on the rim top. The rim edges were in decent condition with light dents in the surface. You can see some of the chipping to the edge of the cape over the twin rings around the bowl. Jeff took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl from different angles and you can see the overall condition of the finish on the pipe. The next photo shows the chips in the edges of the cap. The middle ring was intact in this photo.He took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable and is the standard Custombilt over Imported Briar stamp. The style of script in the stamp should help date and identify the time period the pipe was made.The next photos show that the stem was quite heavily oxidized and pitted. There was some light tooth chatter on both surfaces of the stem near the button and on the button edges itself.  I wanted to identify the stamping on the pipe so I started going through various sites I have used before. I looked on both the Pipephil website and the Pipedia website. The Pipephil site gave the following information: Tracy Mincer stopped making Custom-Bilt pipes in the early 1950s. The trademark was successively bought by Leonard Rodgers (1953), Consolidated Cigars (1968) and Wally Frank Co. (early 1970s). The later began to produce again his version of the pipe in 1974 or 1975 at Weber pipe factory (NJ). In 1987, the pipes were made out of the Butz-Choquin factory (France) and then Mexico until the late 1990s. Currently (2010), the Custombilt name is owned by Tobacalera of Spain which is part of Altadis. It is generally admitted (but not proved) pipes stamped “Custom – Bilt” (with the hyphen) are from the Mincer era. The name might have changed from Custom-Bilt to Custombilt (without the hyphen) in 1946. http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c8.html

I did some more research on the brand in the article on Pipedia. As I read through the material there I came across this photo that is pretty close to the stamping on the pipe I am working on. The note under the stamping photos identifies the stamping as one that was on pipes from the Wally Frank era.

https://pipedia.org/images/6/64/Custombilt_Stamp3.jpg

I read further in the Pipedia article to help confirm this. In the early 1950’s, Tracy Mincer developed severe financial problems that caused him to stop making the Custombilt, and he lost the name. In 1953, Leonard Rodgers bought the company and emphasized tobacco pouches and butane lighters. (However, it appears Mincer was working on his new pipe, the Doodler.) In 1968, Rodgers sold the Company to Consolidated Cigars. In the early 1970s, Wally Frank Co. bought the Custombilt trademark and began to produce their version of the pipe in 1974 or 1975. Hollco Rohr owned the Weber pipe factory, located in New Jersey, and produced the Custombilt pipes there. In 1987, the pipes were made out of the Butz-Choquin factory (France) and then Mexico until the late 1990s. Currently, the Custombilt name is owned by Tobacalera of Spain. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Custom-Bilt

From all of that I can say with fair certainty that the pipe came out in the 1970s and was made by the Wally Frank Company.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once more he soaked the stem in Before & After Stem Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. The pipe came out looking really good. The grooves and carving on the briar looked clean and the stem oxidation was virtually gone. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition it was in after the cleanup. Jeff was able to remove the darkening and tars from the rim top and edges. The grain on the top is very nice and the top is clean. There were dents in the surface of the rim but the edges of the rim itself looked very good. It is a nice looking finish. The stem was clean and you can see that the deoxidizer had done a great job removing the oxidation. The tooth chatter, though present was not as visible on the stem and button.I took a photos of the chips out of the cap on the front and middle left. While they are visible I will leave them as part of the story of the journey of this old pipe.I started my restoration with the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out some of the nicks in the inner edge of the bowl. It was not out of round so it did not take too much work to remove the damage to the edge.The rest of the pipe was in such good condition from the cleanup that I did not have to do any sanding on the rim top or bowl. I began by rubbing the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the rusticated briar and the smooth rim. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and worked it into the rustication with cotton swabs. I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I sanded the repair smooth with 220 grit sandpaper followed by 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper to remove the pitting and light oxidation that remained in the curves of the saddle and the edges of the button. (I apologize for the lighting on the 2 sanding photos as they are a bit dark. The stem actually looks far better than my photos at this point.)I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.    I put the stem back on the pipe and worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl several more coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This chunky Custombilt Bulldog has been brought back to life. It is my kind of pipe but it is one that I will likely sell on the store. If you are interested let me know as I will be posting it soon. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Custombilt.

Finishing the last of Mark’s Challenges – this one a GBD Bulldog 2331


Blog by Steve Laug

I finished the restoration work on Mark’s uncle’s pipes and a few of his own and sent them back to him in late January of this year. I wrote a blog on each of the restorations. They were a fun batch of pipes to restore for him. He sent me another package a few weeks ago that had just three pipes in it – A GBD 2331 Popular Straight Bulldog, a GBD 9242 Rhodesian (one of my holy grail pipes) and a long Churchwarden pipe. Each pipe had a different set of issues that would provide a variety of challenges. The GBD 9242 had suffered much at the hands of a hack repair person. The Churchwarden had a broken tenon stuck in the shank. I am finally working on the last of the pipes – the little classic shaped GBD Bulldog. The Bulldog was in excellent condition other than the first ½ inch of the stem missing in chunks. This pipe was by far in the best condition of the lot. The finish has spots of varnish on the sides of the bowl and shank. Most of it was gone but there were still flecks of it present. The finish underneath was in decent shape and the oxblood stain looked very good with the mixed grain patterns around the bowl. The bowl was clean and looked like it had been recently reamed. The rim top was free of lava and though it had some light rim darkening on the top. The edges of the bowl – both inner and outer were in good shape. The stem looked really good other than the missing chunks. There was little oxidation and after the damaged part was removed it was pretty clean. The stem had enough length on it that I thought I might be able to cut it off and reshape it. Time would tell. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the general condition of the pipe. You can see how clean the bowl, rim top and edges are. You can see the broken end of the stem with the missing chunks. It appeared as if someone had tried to glue the pieces on the stem and affect a repair. The repair had not worked but the glue was left behind.I took some close up photos of the shank to show the stamping on both sides. The left side shows the GBD oval over the Brand Popular. The right side is stamped London England in a straight line over 2331 which is the shape number. The stamping is faint in some places but it is still readable. The GBD brass oval rondel is in good condition on the left side of the saddle stem.I decided to start working on this pipe by addressing the issue with the damaged stem. I removed the stem and set the bowl aside. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the damaged portions of the stem on both sides. I cut off as much as the damage as necessary to remove the broken and chipped edges and still leave behind enough stem to work with in shaping the new button.I used a  mixture of black super glue and charcoal powder to build up a button edge on both sides of the stem. I set it over a lighter so that it could dry on both sides.Once the repair had dried/cured I reshaped the stem and button. I cut a sharp edge on both sides of the stem with a needle file. I shaped the taper of the stem surface on both sides with the blade of the file.I sanded out the file marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button and slot with the sandpaper. I cleaned up the sanding marks with 400 wet dry sandpaper. I sanded the entire stem to clean up all of the scratches and marks in the vulcanite.I followed the sanding by polishing the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Polish – using both the Fine and the Extra Fine polish. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I was happy with the new look of the button and stem. I rubbed down the surface of the briar with a cotton pad and acetone. I was able to remove the entire patchy varnish coat. The briar looked far better with that removed. The photos below show the bowl after the acetone wash. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar and the smooth rim. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth and buffed it with a shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave it several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The new button and reshaping of the stem looks really good. Now that I have finished the last of Mark’s pipes I will be packing them up soon to send back to him. It won’t be long before Mark gets to enjoy them with their inaugural smokes. With the damage removed I think the pipe looks a lot better. Thanks for walking with me through the process of the reshaping.

Restoring a Comoy’s Sandblast 215 Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Recently I was contacted by a reader, Daniel about restoring a couple of pipes that he had picked up at a local antique shop. The first was a nice looking Art Deco style pipe with a prow and fins around the bowl. I wrote about the restoration of the C.B. Weber Streamliner already at this link: https://rebornpipes.com/2018/03/30/restoring-a-cb-weber-inc-maplewood-streamliner/. The second pipe was a briar Comoy’s Sandblast Bent Billiard that I worked on next. The bowl had a thick cake in it that had overflowed onto the rim top. There were shards of tobacco in the bottom of the bowl and on the sides as well. The finish was dirty but otherwise not too bad. There was a smooth band on the underside of the shank. It was stamped Comoy’s over Sandblast over Made in London over England and next to that was the shape number 215. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and there was tooth chatter on the top and underside at the button. The C logo was not the three part older logo that was on earlier Comoy’s pipe but rather a one part inlay with a different style font. I took photos of the pipe before I began the cleanup process. I took photos of the rim top and both sides of the stem to show the condition of both. The close up of the rim top shows the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava in the grooves of the sandblast finish. The photo shows the tobacco debris stuck in bottom and on the sides of the bowl. The stem was oxidized and both sides of the stem had tooth chatter near the button. There were no deep tooth marks so it would be a fairly easy cleanup.I took two photos of the underside of the shank rolling it between photos to make sure that all of the stamping was readable.I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove all of the cake and the tobacco debris that was stuck to the walls of the bowl. I scraped the cake back to bare briar so that I could examine the walls of the bowl. There were very clean and there was no checking or burn marks.I cleaned out the interior of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It was not as dirty as I expected. I was able to remove all of the grime and tars that were in the mortise, shank and airway in the stem.I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean up the rim top sandblast. I scrubbed it until the entire rim top was clean and the debris removed. I worked over the inside of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the edge.I scrubbed the surface of the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm, working it into the grooves and deeper areas of the sandblast. The balm enlivens, cleans and protects the briar was it is worked into the finish. I let it sit for a short time and then buffed it off with a soft cloth. I took photos of the bowl to show the condition at this point. I wet sanded the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the tooth marks and chatter. I worked on it until I had removed the majority of the oxidation on the surface. I polished the stem surface with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine deepen the shine. I gave the pipe a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to lightly polish both the bowl and the stem. I buffed the bowl and stem to raise the gloss on the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl a lighter buff than I did on the stem to keep the polishing material from clogging the deep grooves of the blast. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The contrasting brown stain – both medium and dark brown goes well with the rich black of the vulcanite stem. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 1/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inches. This is a newer Comoy’s pipe as far as can tell from the shape and fit of the C logo on the stem. Now that Daniel’s second pipe finished I will soon pack them up and mail both of them back to him. I know he is looking forward to loading it up and smoking it. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

1937 Pipe Lore Annual – Wally Frank Catalogue


Blog by Steve Laug

I purchased a group of pipes from a fellow in Texas and it included this Pipe Lore Annual Wally Frank Catalogue from 1937. It is an interesting read. For me these old catalogues are great reading and the descriptions of pipes and tobaccos fascinate me. I thought I would scan it and share it here with all of you. Give it a read. Enjoy.

Restoring a CB Weber Inc. Maplewood Streamliner


Blog by Steve Laug

Recently I was contacted by a reader about restoring a couple of pipes that he had picked up at a local antique shop. It was a nice looking Art Deco style pipe with a prow and fins around the bowl. The inside of the bowl itself was oval. The pipe was made out of Maple rather than briar. The fins went around the sides, back and front of the bowl. The finish was dirty but otherwise not too bad. The cuts around the bowl were rough and unsanded with a lot of burrs around the edges of each fin. The top of the bowl was darkened and also had a buildup of lava on the back side of the bowl and some darkening on the rim top. There was a cake in the bowl and shards of tobacco stuck to the sides and bottom. There were scratches on the shank and the bottom of the bowl. The bottom of the bowl had a raised ridge across the middle which made the pipe sit upright on the desk top. The stem appeared to be vulcanite with scratches and tooth chatter on the top and underside at the button. There was a small metal stinger in the tenon. I took photos of the rim top and both sides of the stem to show the condition of both. The close up of the rim top shows the darkening one the back side of the rim top and some around the other sides. The photo shows the tobacco debris stuck in bottom and on the sides of the bowl. Both sides of the stem had tooth chatter near the button. There were no deep tooth marks so it would be a fairly easy cleanup.The first article that I quoted from in that blog came from the following blogpost on WordPress: http://streamlinesdeluxe.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/weber-streamliner-pipe-2/. The author of the blog makes a brief reference to the pipe I found (and this one by the way) and even has a picture of it. He speaks of the stem being made of something other than vulcanite. Other references I found in online pipe forums spoke of the fact that the bowl was not made of briar but of some composite material. Others said that the bowls were made of American hardwoods. Interestingly no one spoke of what hardwoods were used. I have hunted high and low on the web and can find nothing definitive on the pipe’s manufacture or composition.

I broadened my search to information on finned pipes. I did not want information on Porsche design pipes or metal finned pipes but was looking for anything on wooden finned pipes. I came across the following information on a patent taken by a carver/designer named Wayne Leser. His diagrams and patent application is included below and it can be seen that it is actually very close to CB Weber’s Streamliner. His patent was applied for through the US Patent Office in January of 1941. I assume the patent was granted as it is on the Patent website. Weber’s design seems to be elongated a bit more than the Leser design but the tear drop shape of the outer bowl and the similarly tear drop shape of the drilling match quite well.

I can find no further information on Wayne Leser so I have no idea if he sold his concept to Weber, or worked for Weber. If anyone has further information on that connection it would be great to learn about it. Please post a response below. Refreshing myself on the history of the brand gave me the kind of background information that I enjoy when working on pipes that I am restoring. I took some close up photos to show that the pipe is made of Maple wood. It also shows that the shank of the pipe I am working bears stamping on both sides. On the left side it is stamped Streamliner in script over C.B. Weber Ltd. On the right side it is stamped Wally Frank Ltd. That means that while the pipe was made by C.B. Weber it was sold and distributed by Wally Frank. I wonder if it was not one of their Pipe of the Month sales.I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove all of the cake and the tobacco debris that was stuck to the walls of the bowl. I scraped the cake back to bare wood so that I could examine the walls of the bowl. There were very clean and there was no checking or burn marks.I used a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inside of each of the fins so that the sawed areas were smooth and all of the burrs left behind by the sawing of each fin were removed and smoothed out.I polished the rim top to remove the darkening and the light lava overflow. I also sanded the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. I took some more photos of the stem when it had been removed from the shank. You can see the scratching and wear on the top and underside near the button and other scratches up the stem toward the stinger in the tenon.  I removed the stinger and took a photo of it next to the stem.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth marks and chatter. I worked on it until the surface was smooth. I polished the stem surface with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine deepen the shine. I gave the pipe a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to lightly polish both the bowl and the stem. I buffed the bowl and stem to raise the gloss on the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The C.B. Weber Maple Streamliner is unstained. The grain on the Maple wood shows through on the rim, sides and shank of the pipe. The blonde maple goes well with the rich black of the vulcanite stem. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 1/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 5/8 inches wide and 1 inch long. This is an interesting pipe with an Art Deco look and a streamlined flow. The fins along the sides, front and back of the bowl act as cooling fins when the pipe is smoked. I have a second pipe to work on for Daniel and then I will mail both of them back to him. I know he is looking forward to loading it up and smoking it. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

 

A Pipe for Vanity – a Stanton for a Stanton


Blog by Dal Stanton

I suppose it IS vain to restart my restoration operations after 6 months with a pipe bearing my name.  In my recent travelogue blog, ‘There and Back again – to Bulgaria’, I described what I called my ‘Vanity Pipe’ as one of the 105 pipes I acquired during our 6 month US visit.  I came across this name-sake while trolling eBay’s offerings.  I hadn’t come across a ‘Stanton’ before and so I decided to place a bid.  As it turned out, I was the only Stanton bidding on the Stanton and claimed my Vanity Pipe with no competition.Name aside, the medium sized billiard looked to me like he was a hearty pipe – I will see if he’s a good smoker.  Yet, if the heavy use, thick cake, and banged up stummel is any indication of the former steward’s affections, I would say it was very much part of the rotation and saw much active duty!  The eBay seller provided good pictures of the Stanton which show the numerous challenges, but also the potential.  The grain is attractive and will look great when the surface is refurbished and polished up.  Here are some the pictures I saw on eBay. ‘STANTON’ is stamped on the left side of the shank, and ‘IMPORTED’ over ‘Briar’ on the right.  Of course, one of my first questions when I landed the Stanton from eBay was, where was this pipe manufactured?  Are there any clues?  My first inquiry was in Wilczak & Colwell’s, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’  Stanton was listed but designated as ‘Unknown’.  My next stop after Pipedia came up empty, was PipePhil.eu where I found my first Stanton cousin listed:There were some differences in the nomenclature – my Stanton has ‘Imported Briar’ stamped on the left side shank.  The specimen from Pipephil has ‘Genuine Briar’ under Stanton.  Another difference is the dot.  My Stanton’s saddle stem has no identifying mark.  Yet, what was very clear from the comparison of the ‘Stanton’ on both pipes is that the same stamp pressed Stanton in the briar.  The font is identical.  My Stanton is the lower comparison. Simple google searches revealed the clan was larger with additional Stanton cousins showing up demonstrating a variety of shapes being produced under the Stanton name.

Two cousins from eBay:The only thing I found of a Stanton that provided any remote tidbit on origin was from SmokingPipes.com where the listing was for a very attractive Stanton Rhodesian described as an American Estate pipe.  I liked Eric N. Squires’ description which I thought was apropos for my rugged and worn billiard:

American Estates: Stanton Smooth Rhodesian

Product Number: 004-009-6323

Here is another example of a pipe that was built extra stout, where it is a good thing that it was. This is because whoever else owned it, sure as hell didn’t baby it. I can see why they kept it so long though, as the broad chamber promises plenty of flavor, the drilling is nice and straight, and wide, firmly rounded bowl is pleasing in hand.

– Eric N. SquiresSo, it’s starting to become clearer – my new Vanity Pipe isn’t quite as vain as I!  He has humble origins it would seem.  If anyone can add information to this query into this Stanton’s roots, I would be appreciative.

When I take a closer look at the Stanton billiard on my Pipe Steward work table here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I take a few more pictures to chronicle some of the challenges.  The rim is in rough shape, with most of the front quadrant showing heavy wear – almost looks like the edge was scraped on concrete. The cake is heavy and thick in the chamber and will need to be removed to reveal the condition of the chamber wall.  The bowl surface is grimy and dark with old finish, several pocks and dents.  Surprisingly, I do not detect any fills – the briar underneath the surface carnage looks to be very expressive, with much flow and character.  The heel of the stummel is populated with tight bird’s eye grain. The saddle stem looks to be in good condition, with some oxidation and wee bit of tooth chatter and dents.  The old screw in stinger needs to be cleaned along with the nickel insert/band – which seems to be a consistent design with the other Stantons.  I did note that the set of the tenon, when fully engaged, is under-clocked.  I’ll need to address this as well.   I begin the restoration of my first pipe after a 6-month hiatus AND one bearing my name by inserting a pipe cleaner into the stem, through the stinger, and putting it into OxiClean solution to raise the oxidation from the vulcanite.  As a side note, after reading several of Steve’s posts testing and then using Before & After Deoxidizer from Ibepen.com, I decided to try it.  I brought a bottle of it back with me to Bulgaria along with the balm and polishes.  Down the road I’ll give them a try.Turning to the stummel, I begin the reaming process with my newly acquired vintage Swiss Made Pipnet reaming kit made with heavier duty hard rubber.  Previously, I used the acrylic version that Pipnet put out later which tended to be more prone to breaking – the blades cracked on harder jobs.  With a bit of patience watching eBay, the older, stronger Pipnet system surfaced and I’m thankful to have it back in Bulgaria! Now, to take the new Pipnet blades for a test spin!  After putting some paper towel down to help in cleanup, starting with the smallest blade, I work on removing the hard, thick cake.  The blade went through with little effort.  The next larger blade did its job as well.  I then used the Savinelli Fitsall reaming tool to fine tune, removing more of the carbon in the harder to reach places.  Then, wrapping a piece of 240 grade sanding paper around a dowel rod, I sand the chamber walls and finish the job wiping out the remaining carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  The pictures show the reaming process. Turning to the rim and the stummel surface, I need to clean the lava off the rim and the grime on the briar surface.  Using undiluted Murphys Oil Soap, I scrub the rim and surface with a cotton pad.  I also utilize a brass brush to work on the rim which will not add to the damage already present.  I then rinse the stummel with cool tap water.  While I’m working on the surface, I take 0000 steel wool and clean the nickel plate band/connector.  An inspection of the clean chamber walls reveals no problems.After the surface cleaning, I take a closer look at the stummel surface.  The rim will need to be topped, but it is possible that the severe outer lip damage to the rim can be leveraged to my advantage.  I can introduce an outer, rounded bevel and blend it with the freshened top.  This can allow less real estate to be lost in the topping process.  Along with the dents and pocks I saw before, I notice a dark area on the left front quadrant of the stummel which may indicate overheating of the stummel.  I also note that in the shank area, around the stamping, the old, shiny finish persists.  I want to remove all the old finish, especially around the stampings. To address this old residue of finish I use acetone and a cotton pad and make short work of the finish.  As hoped, the surface is now clean.Before moving further with the surface, I attack the internal cleaning of the mortise and airway.  I use pipe cleaners, cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% to do the dirty work.  I also use a dental probe to scrape the mortise surface and to excavate the oils and tars that have congealed over time in the airway.  That was the frontal attack.  With grunge still surfacing on the cotton buds, and with the late hour approaching, I decide to use the passive-aggressive approach.  Using Kosher salt, I fill the bowl and then add alcohol to sit overnight to work on cleaning the mortise.  I set the stummel in an egg crate to provide stability.  Then I fill the bowl with Kosher salt – not iodized salt which leaves an aftertaste.  I then stretch and twist a cotton ball, to create ‘wick’ to draw the crud out of the mortise as the salt/alcohol does its work.  I then fill the bowl with isopropyl alcohol 95% until full.  I wait a few minutes and top it off.  With that, I turn off the lights and head to bed.  Another day coming.  The next day, as hoped, the salt and cotton wick showed signs of the extraction of old oils and tars from the internals of the stummel.  I clean out the dried salt and used a dry paper towel and bristle brushes to remove the residue salt.  I also blow through the airway to help out.  Even after the salt treatment, there is gunk left in the mortise.  I continued to scrape the mortise wall with a dental spatula and follow with cotton buds dipped in alcohol to finish the job.  The pictures tell the story. I put the stummel aside to work on the stem, now soaking in OxiClean.  After taking it out of the soak, I take a picture and see that a moderate amount of oxidation had raised to the surface.  Taking a piece of 600 grade paper I wet sand the stem removing the oxidation from the vulcanite.  I also use a brass brush to remove the caked residue off the stinger.  Taking a close look at the bit, there were only very small dents remaining after the sanding.  I returned with the 600-grade paper focusing on those minute points and the stem is looking good. On a hunch, after the cleaning of the stinger and the mortise receptor band/plate, I refitted the stem to see if it still was under-clocked a few degrees as I saw earlier.  As hoped, the cleaning corrected the alignment – now, looking down the pipe from the steward’s view, one sees a true alignment.  Nice..To complete the clean-up, I turn to the stem using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  I also utilize a long-bristled brush.  I find that utilizing the set of bristled brushes that I acquired some time ago saves on the pipe cleaners and are effective in getting at the gunk.  Stem and stummel are now clean. The rim needs my attention now.  I take a close look again.  I will top the stummel using 240 grade paper on a chopping board.  Looking at the first picture below, most of the external rim damage is on the front – 7 to 11 o’clock in the picture.  What I’m a bit concerned about is the large internal rim divot at the 2 o’clock position.  I’ll top a little and see if can address this without taking too much briar off.  Otherwise, I’ll need to fill it with a superglue/briar dust patch to build it up to the rim surface.On the topping board with 240 grade paper, I rotate the stummel as evenly as I can to avoid leaning in one direction or the other.  I check the progress to make sure I’m not leaning into softer wood.  I take some intermittent pictures below to show the progress.  I come to a point where not all the damage is removed, but enough that can be addressed by cutting bevels in the external and internal lips of the rim.  To me, applying bevels to rims generally makes it look classier.  I finish the topping by using a sheet of 600 grade and rotate the stummel several times to provide a smoothing of the surface.  The pictures show the progress.  Without going any further with the topping, I look closely at the dents and pocks on the stummel surface.  I see that some of the ‘pocks’ as I’ve described them may be very small fills on the underside of the shank and one on the top.  The fill is a light material.  The shank-side of the stummel is especially banged up with small dents.  I utilize sanding sponges to remove these and work toward smoothing out and rounding of the outer rim lip to remove the damage.  Careful to avoid the stampings on the shank, I progress by using the roughest grade, medium then fine grade sanding sponges in order.  I’m pleased with the results with most all the damage removed from the stummel.  The rounding of the rim looks great.  The pictures show the progress. The inner lip of the rim is next.  The one major divot at the 2 o’clock position I decide is too deep to remove it by creating an internal bevel.  To build this divot up, I apply a few drops of Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA Glue.  I’ll let the glue sit overnight before I bevel the inside lip. The next day, the CA has cured well.  To re-establish crisp rim lines, I take the stummel again to the topping board covered by 600 grade paper.  I’ll remove the CA glue mound and redefine the rim after the rounding of the rim edge.  I take a before and after pix. That does the job. Next, to complete this phase of the rim repair, I roll pieces of 120, 240 and 600 grade papers and cut an internal rim bevel to remove the remaining nicks and to soften the look.  With each rolled piece, I pinch the inside of the rim with the paper using my thumb and rotate evenly around the circumference.  The bevel is slight, and I think it looks good.  Again, before internal bevel and after pictures. I set the stummel aside and turn now to the stem.  The initial wet sanding of the stem with 600 grade paper removed the minor bite marks and I’m ready to move to the micromesh cycle.  Using all nine pads, 1500 to 12000, I wet sand with 1500 to 2400, then dry sand from 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, I apply an ample amount of Obsidian Oil to refresh the vulcanite stem. I love the pop of newly polished vulcanite!  My vanity pipe is shaping up nicely. As I pick up the stummel, I look closely at the briar grain and a dark area I thought might be an overheating of the stummel – scorching.  Now, with the old finish off and the hidden briar making an appearance, the area is a briar knot – a tight swirl of briar. It has character and I think it looks good.  To continue the preparation of the stummel, I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, followed by dry sanding with grades 3200 to 4000 then finishing up with pads 6000 to 12000.After finishing the first wet sanding cycle, I notice that the ‘pocks’ or fills on the shank had softened and become more noticeable and in need of filling.  A detour, but better now than later!  I use a dental probe to work out the softer fill.  I then mixed a small batch of superglue and briar dust to fill the holes.  I use a dental spoon to pack the mixture in the holes and put the stummel aside for it to cure. After the glue cures, I use a flat needle file surgically to bring the patch mounds down to the briar surface.  I am careful to keep the file on the glue mound not to create collateral damage to the surrounding briar.  Then using a tightly rolled piece of 240 grade paper, I remove the remaining glue residue by using the tight abrasive edge of the roll and rotate it in a circular motion over the mound area.  With touch and a close look, I’m able to determine the excess glue is removed.  Then, using 600 grade paper, I fine tune the entire area, not as concerned about the overrun on neighboring briar.  At this point the fine abrasion is blending and shining.  I finish the patches by catching the repair areas up with the first 3 micromesh pads.  The areas are still visible, but now smooth and will blend better as I continue with the finishing process.  The pictures show the detour progress. With the detour completed, I continue with the last two sets of dry sanding with micromesh pads 3200 to 12000.  This pipe’s briar is looking very nice. Well, there are a few pipes the make it through the restoration gauntlet up to this point, and the natural briar just says, I’m enough.  I had been planning to apply a lighter dye to the surface, but now…no.  The actual look of the briar is lighter than the pictures above, which I like.  So, with that decision made by my Stanton Vanity Pipe 😊, “I’m enough!”, I reunite the waiting stem with the stummel and take a picture – the bird’s eye view looks good.To tease out the briar grain even more, I finally take my Dremel off the hook and again use it after the 6 months hiatus!  Using Red Tripoli compound, I begin the buffing process on stem and stummel using a cotton cloth wheel mounted on the Dremel at the lowest speed. After completing a methodical circuit with the Tripoli, I switch to the lesser abrasive, Blue Diamond, using another cotton cloth wheel at the same speed.  Completing the abrasive compounds, I give the pipe a quick buff with a clean cotton cloth to remove the compound dust/powder before applying the wax.  I apply the carnauba wax with, yet another cotton cloth wheel dedicated to application of wax.  I increase the speed of the Dremel by about 20% and I apply a couple of coats of wax to the entire pipe.  For those who have not read my restorations, I live on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building here in Sofia.  I do not have a lot of room, so my techniques for restoration, especially polishing techniques have had to bend to the realities – hence, my exclusive utilization of a Dremel with no room for the more powerful full wheel buffers.  After Steve asked me to write an essay on my techniques using a Dremel, I discovered out in the blogosphere many people who appreciated what I had written out of my own trials and errors.  You can find this essay at the Pipe Steward website here: My Dremel Polishing Techniques with a No-Name pipe from Sozopol Bulgaria.  My techniques have developed since then, but it’s a helpful essay.  Thanks to my wife for helping take the following pixs since I don’t have a third hand to use!After completing the application of carnauba wax, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.  This helps bring out the shine even more but also removes wax buildups that I may have not spread adequately with the Dremel.

The Stanton Vanity pipe came out well.  I’m please with the rim repair that was significant. The removal of the old finish and cleaning revealed a very nice presentation of briar grain – the highlight is the dark knot cluster that almost looks like a thumb print.  If anyone has any leads on more information about the ‘Stanton’ nomenclature I would appreciate a note!  It is good to back to The Pipe Steward work table.  The vast majority of my pipes are put in the store to help benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited, but this fellow, Stanton, is staying in my collection.  Thanks for joining me!